Chris Pronger, trying to bounce back from a three-surgery season, said he hopes to play all 82 regular-season games in 2011-12 and laughed off a suggestion that age was catching up with him.
In a conference call with reporters on Monday, the almost-37-year-old Flyers defenseman said he has been exercising regularly _ walking a treadmill, riding a stationary bike, and doing workouts to strengthen his back, legs and shoulders _ but has not been given the go-ahead to lift weights.
Though he isn’t expected to be ready for the start of training camp on Sept. 16, Pronger said “the goal is to be ready for Game 1 of the regular season. I’m starting to progress…..Once I get cleared, I can start getting into a full-lifting program.”
Pronger, expected to be named the Flyers' captain, is sill rehabbing his surgically repaired back and right hand. He estimated his hand was 80 to 85 percent healed and said the recovery was delaying his weight lifting _ putting him about two months behind in his strength program. He hopes to get permission to start lifting weights in a week.
He said strength “for my position and the way I play, is critical. I have to gain my strength back before I begin skating.”
When a reporter suggested he was breaking down because of his age, Pronger seemed amused.
“I don’t know that you could say I was breaking down with broken bones and being hit by pucks and all the rest,” he said. “Those are things that sometimes can be avoided. Perhaps now I may not block as many shots. I might just get out of the way and let our million-dollar goalie stop those things.”
He was referring to Ilya Bryzgalov, who was Pronger’s teammate when Anaheim won the Stanley Cup in 2007.
In a light-hearted moment, Pronger said if he was basing his health on last season, “I guess I’d call myself a Band-Aid. But I’ve got many other years where I’d say I wasn’t a Band-Aid. Sometimes you just have years where things don’t go your way.”
As far as the herniated disk that needed surgery, Pronger said he didn’t know if his back was “a ticking time bomb. No one really knows how they hurt their back. I’d like to think I’m past all this.”
Pronger reiterated he liked the moves the Flyers made in a dizzying off-season, when they added Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek, Jaromir Jagr and Max Talbot, among others. He acknowledged the Flyers lost lots of production when they said (ital)au revoir(end ital) to Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Ville Leino, but added that the new players _ and budding forwards Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk _ will compensate for their departures.
He thinks the Flyers will be a different type of team.
”We don’t want to play in games that are 8-7,” he said. “We want to be able to rely on our goaltender and our defense, which is where we’re built, and our youth up front. Get physical, get on the play and create turnovers and things of that nature.”
Pronger, who seemed in midseason form in his give-and-take with reporters, was asked if he was still in pain because of the surgeries.
“Just sitting here, talking to you guys, I have no pain,” he said. “Other than my brain.”
Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at email@example.com, or on Twitter at BroadStBull.
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